The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to move its Atlanta offices and laboratory from Midtown to Fort McPherson, shifting about 350 highly paid personnel to the former Army post.
The announcement Thursday delivers a boost to redevelopment efforts at the complex, which closed in 2011 as part of a broader military reorganization. Brian Hooker, executive director of the redevelopment authority overseeing 145 acres of the site, said the FDA’s decision to lease the former forces command or FORSCOM office building is validation that “Fort Mac” and the southwest side of Atlanta are on the upswing.
“The real breakthrough is this is an endorsement of the southside,” Hooker said.
Hooker’s organization, formally known as the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority or Fort Mac LRA, is overseeing a planned $700 million redevelopment of the post into a mixed-use and mixed-income community. In 2015, the authority acquired the shuttered Army post from the government and subsequently sold about 330 acres to filmmaker Tyler Perry, who has built a sprawling movie and television production campus.
The remaining acreage has been slated for redevelopment. In 2017, Fort Mac LRA selected Macauley Investments as its master planner and developer.
Easterly Government Properties is under contract to acquire the FORSCOM building, also known as Marshall Hall, and will renovate it. The company submitted a proposal to the General Services Administration, which manages government real estate, to be the new home of the FDA Atlanta complex and beat several competing bidders that pitched sites to the north of Atlanta.
The FDA joins the agencies such as the Federal Aviation and Administration and Department of Homeland Security in operating large offices on the southside. FDA Atlanta will be the largest employer at Fort Mac outside of Tyler Perry Studios.
The Atlanta campus is one of 13 FDA field labs, according to Easterly. The Fort Mac facility will house space for the Atlanta district office and the FDA’s Southeast Food and Feed and Southeast Tabacco labs. FDA Atlanta covers eight Southeastern states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
In a news release, William Trimble III, CEO of Easterly, said employees will benefit from MARTA access to Fort Mac, which is served by two stations on the Red and Gold rail lines.
“Easterly sees the opportunity presented in such a convenient location, and is pleased to serve as redeveloper for a sophisticated, leading-edge, highly specialized laboratory facility to support the FDA,” he said.
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